Dr. Lyman Hall was one of three signers of the Declaration of Independence from Georgia. He was also a delegate to the Continental Congress and governor of Georgia.
Born on 12 April 1724 in Wallingford, Connecticut, Hall graduated from Yale University in 1747 and was soon ordained a Congregational minister. In 1753 he began practicing medicine and in 1757 moved to the Puritan Colony at Dorchester, South Carolina. He was among the members of the colony who migrated to St. John’s Parish, Georgia, and the newly established Midway Colony, and was granted land here in 1760. The Midway colonists became such stalwarts for liberty that St. John’s Parish was renamed Liberty County in their honor. In this spirit, the colonists chose Dr. Hall to represent their concerns in the Continental Congress in 1775, before Georgia had even joined the federation. As an official representative a year later, Dr. Hall signed the Declaration of Independence, along with Button Gwinnett and George Walton. After the Revolution, he served as governor and helped establish the University of Georgia. In 1785 he sold Hall’s Knoll and in 1790 moved to Shell Bluff Plantation in Burke County, where he died on 19 October of the same year. He was buried on a bluff overlooking the Savannah River but his remains were re-interred in Augusta, with those of George Walton, beneath the Signers Monument.
The Dixie Highway was conceived in 1915 by a group of governors and business leaders seeking to increase tourism in their states. As assembly lines made cars and trucks more affordable to the masses, improved roads were a necessity. Historically, Georgia’s were notoriously bad. As late as 1915, paved streets were rare in the state and no paved highways existed.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that this was the first viable ‘interstate’ highway in Georgia and local leaders lobbied aggressively to have the route come through their communities. Its presence in Ben Hill County was likely a result of the influence of local newspaperman Isidor Gelders. He was a member of the board of the Dixie Highway Association.
Scattered original sections like those pictured here still remain, but they’re increasingly rare.
Besides being one of the prettiest drives in this part of Georgia, Deepstep Road, which is situated near the Fall Line, allows the traveler to see where the Coastal Plain ends and the Piedmont begins.
It’s amazing that these old hobnail crossing signs are still in use.
Hiltonia is located on Georgia Highway 24, between Sylvania and Sardis.